As the festivities in Copenhagen got underway last week, there was no shortage of enthusiasm from those pushing for new regulations, new caps and new taxes – all in the name of saving the planet.
With EPA Administrator Jackson officially unveiled her agency’s endangerment finding, commentators were quick to point out that this was the proverbial stick that was supposed to bully Congress into finally giving the President what he wants.
Yet – as all this unfolds – I can’t help but think about what this will all mean to mining communities in my state of West Virginia, or in Kentucky or Wyoming or other energy-producing communities across our nation.
We can all get on board with a move towards more efficient energy technology that burns more cleanly and reduces emissions. Yet it seems that many in this debate like to pretend that aggressive emissions are a slam dunk win for communities around the world. The human economic costs tend to get brushed aside in this great crusade toward “progress.”
The cries of “green jobs,” for example, are as omnipresent as coverage of the Tiger Woods fiasco, but talking about green jobs doesn’t change the fact that more than 500 coal miners in my state were told last week that they may no longer have their jobs.
While a range of local factors contributed to these specific layoffs – it’s quite obvious that the future of coal mining communities is rather bleak given a regulatory agenda that’s blocking mine permits and a legislative agenda that will impose devastating cap-and-trade regime.
And with news that a proposed West Virginia wind farm was also blocked by court action last week, it’s becoming apparent that moving to these “green jobs” will be no cake walk either.
On behalf of thousands of citizens in my who state fear that “success” in Copenhagen will mean capping their future, I urge the President and his team to remember that he represents families in Appalachia too. Their jobs should count for something.